Democratic Presidential Candidates on Immigration: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg

By Ella Bergquist September 12, 2019 (Updated February 24, 2020) 7 min. read
Democratic Candidates Immigration Views

February 2020 Update:

Immigration continues to be a key feature of the 2020 Presidential race. All eight of the Democratic candidates are united in their opposition to the current administration’s immigration policies. Broadly, the candidates have agreed to immigration reform in the form of creating legal paths to citizenship for people in the country illegally, ending family separations at the US-Mexican border, and increasing aid to help reduce the number of people seeking asylum. However, the candidates do differ in their approach to policies.

  1. Joe Biden: The former Vice President supports healthcare for individuals in the USA illegally as well as creating a pathway for citizenship. He would also increase the refugee cap to 125,000. Biden would also support individual towns petitioning for visas as this would allow towns to stimulate their economy. Biden would not decriminalize crossing the border illegally or change the current Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  2. Mike Bloomberg: The former New York Mayor has an immigration plan that would undo much of the policies put in the place by President Trump. He plans to create a pathway for individuals already in country illegally to become citizens. He would also like to reform the visa system to allow labor shortages to be addressed in different parts of the country. Bloomberg wants the Department of Justice to investigate the allegations against ICE.
  3. Pete Buttigieg:  He has said he would decriminalize border crossings except in the cases of fraud or human trafficking.  Buttigieg does not believe in abolishing ICE but would like to review the current structure to see if it could be improved.
  4. Tulsi Gabbard: She supports decriminalizing border crossing but does advocate securing the border with technology or a physical barrier where it makes sense. She believes that the US needs to accept asylum seekers while also working to address the reasons why people are seeking asylum.
  5. Amy Klobuchar: She has pledged that within 100 days of taking the office she would negotiate immigration reform. She would not decriminalize border crossing and would provide acute medical care rather than comprehensive healthcare.
  6. Bernie Sanders: He plans to immediately halt deportations and would seek to provide a legal status to people already in the country illegally. Sanders supports restructuring the Department of Homeland Security which would include breaking up ICE. He also proposes extending healthcare to those in the country illegally.
  7. Tom Steyer: He proposes restructuring ICE and decriminalizing illegal border crossings. He also wants to focus on the visa system and use it to attract students or businesses to the US.
  8. Elizabeth Warren:  She has called for an expansion to legal immigration to the US which would help boost the economy. She has proposed raising the age limit of individuals eligible for DACA. Warren wants to increase the number of refugees allowed into the US. She plans on halting detention at the border, decriminalizing illegal border crossings and providing healthcare to people in the US illegally. She plans on focusing on smuggling and human trafficking at the border. Warren wants to create a new office which would help immigrants transition into life in the US.


The US is preparing for the next presidential election in 2020. Immigration is one of the top issues on voters’ minds, but also one of the most divisive. In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election and he had some very bold ideas on immigration. Donald Trump’s immigration stances included family separation, tighter border security, stricter visa screenings, a ban on immigrants from several majority-Muslim nations, the cancellation of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, building a wall along the Mexican border, etc. The democratic candidates fighting against President Trump this election are focusing substantially on immigration since it is a topic that the American people feel very strongly about. Let’s go into the top 5 democratic candidates and their immigration views.

Top 5 Democratic Candidates Immigration Views

1. Joe Biden

Joe Biden Immigration Views
Joe Biden Immigration Views

Biden does not have immigration as a main issue on his platform but he has spoken about his beliefs a few times. He has said he wants to: “Return the phrase “nation of immigrants” to the mission statement of our Citizenship and Immigration Services, because that is who we are.”

Joe Biden wants to:

2. Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren Immigration Views
Elizabeth Warren Immigration Views

“We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. We need real reform that provides cost-effective security at our borders, addresses the root causes of migration, and provides a path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have to live in fear. That’s why today I’m announcing my plan for immigration reform — to create a rules-based system that is fair, humane, and that reflects our values.”

Elizabeth Warren wants to:

3. Bernie Sanders: 

Bernie Sanders Immigration Views
Bernie Sanders Immigration Views

“Today, we say to the American people that instead of demonizing the undocumented immigrants in this country, we’re going to pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide a path toward citizenship. We’re going to provide legal status to the 1.8 million young people eligible for the DACA program and develop a humane border policy for those who seek asylum. No more snatching babies from the arms of their mothers.”

Bernie Sanders wants to:

4. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris Immigration Views
Kamala Harris Immigration Views

“As president, Kamala will fight to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people living in our communities and contributing to our economy. While she wages that fight, she will immediately reinstate DACA and implement DAPA to protect DREAMers and their parents from deportation. She will also restore and expand Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who would face war or catastrophe if forced to return home.

Kamala also believes we must fundamentally overhaul our immigration enforcement policies and practices—they are cruel and out of control. As president, she’ll close private immigrant detention centers, increase oversight of agencies like Customs and Border Protection, and focus enforcement on increasing public safety, not on tearing apart immigrant families. ”

Kamala Harris wants to:

5. Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg Immigration Views
Pete Buttigieg Immigration Views

“We must reclaim our nation’s standing as a human rights leader by implementing common-sense immigration reform that will secure our values. The greatest nation in the world should have nothing to fear from children fleeing violence. More importantly, children fleeing violence should have nothing to fear from the greatest nation in the world. We must remember that immigrants are an essential part of our American story. Immigration creates strong families and communities who contribute to our economic growth and participate in our vibrant democracy.

Common sense immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living, working, paying taxes, and contributing to our American story, including DREAMers; resources to end the backlogs in our lawful immigration and asylum processes; and reasonable security measures at the border. Most Americans support such a package, and it is long past time for Washington to deliver.”

Pete Buttigieg wants to:

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